Thirteen Mile Campground (PNT alternate; exact mileage unknown)

Friday, August 30, 2019; day 41

The sky sent little drops of liquid encouragement. I shot up and out of my sleeping bag, moving quickly to save my dry items from the rain. I was thankful for it’s light touch. My sleeping bag, maps, guidebook, and phone remained dry. It was about time I started hiking earlier, anyway.

I was moving, just after 0600. I enjoyed the quiet of the morning, the heavy lifting. This part of the world was rising. I realized that I had not met this aspect of the forest on this trip. Each time of day, each season, have such varying essences…different personalities.

The first bird song of the day to reach my ears is loud and repetitive, remarkably akin to a car alarm. It changes tempo: quick then slower then a pause. The pitch is constant.

The morning is moist and rich and beautiful.

I think of time, that it’s existence is based on our own mortality.

The region turns dry, but is breathtaking. Grasses of gold bend and dance to the soft howling of the wind.

The beauty causes a well within me to overflow with appreciation, actuating in resounding laughter.

I came to a small stream, before anticipated.

Just as I am about to remove my shoes and filter, a large grumble fills the air. I look up. The sky is overcast.

…it sounds again.

It begins to rain. Then, another loud clapping.

I leave my shoes on. I put on my rain-gear, and cover my pack.

I collect water and sit right in the center of trail, legs stretched straight out in front of me, and filter.

It rains harder. I continue to sit and filter.

In this moment, I did not mind the rain. It is powerful. It rolls and gathers and pools along my rain gear. It drips down my back. It is cool, but I am not cold. The smell is fresh. I enjoyed the feeling of it washing over me.

As I am finishing, the rain lightens. The grey opens to blue skies and sunshine. The clouds then quickly cover the sun once more, but it seems the rain had ceased. Oh, the unpredictable charm of Washington!

I gather my pack, and continue up the trail.

In avoidance of another bushwhack, I follow the alternate route recommended by the PNTA. It continues along Thirteen Mile Trail. I find the trail to be extremely beautiful. I paused many times, to show appreciation; to take it all in.

I reached Thirteen Mile Campground, where it meets Route 21. There is a beautiful stream of cold, clear water. I take a large sip of the water I had filtered, from my previous collection. It tastes like a farm smells. I feel sick to my stomach. I pour it all out and replace it.

Now, to join Route 21. Taking the alternate extends my walk along the road, but only by a couple of miles. The primary PNT also joins Route 21 after the bushwhack. The guidebook states that it is not a very busy road.

That was not my experience.

There was only about one hour left of daylight. The road walk was breathtaking, but the cars zoom by so fast, causing the fabric of my clothes to flutter. It makes me terribly uneasy.

I notice a sign regarding noxious weed control. I wonder if poison has been sprayed. I think back to the leg swelling I experienced after the road walk in to Northport.

As the shoulder lessons, and the sky darkens, and the cars continue to drive by wildly…I get nervous. I was very uncomfortable. I wonder if I should turn back, and sleep at the Thirteen Mile Campground. I cannot bring myself to do it. Instead I search for a flat space far enough from the pavement, to sleep safely for the night.

Aha! I had found something!

As I continued to approach, I spotted a mother grizzly and her two cubs. My potential sleeping spot was clearly their domain. There was positively no shoulder on the other side of the street. I was positioned between a group of grizzlies on one side and speeding cars on the other, allĀ  beneath a sky turning towards darkness.

I turned around.

Just a few moments after deciding to head back, a red truck stops to warn me that there was a mother grizzly and cubs just behind me. I told him that I had seen them and decided to turn around. He drove off.

Then his truck stopped. He asked if I needed a ride anywhere. I asked him to take me back to Thirteen Mile Campground, only about a mile away.

The man was a hunter. He commented on all of the tourists in a very frustrating tone. I suppose it is Friday.

At least Thirteen Mile Campground is surrounded by beauty, and has a nice stream.

I was frustrated that my plans to continue hiking were thwarted, but I was happy to have a safe place to rest.

I set up my tent by a picnic bench and went to sleep.

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